Are you finding yourself suddenly depressed?

Did everything seem just fine and now suddenly you find yourself sad, hopeless and full of despair?

I know feeling depressed is really disheartening but a big part of accepting and managing it is knowing where it comes from.

So, why might you be suddenly depressed?

#1 – Your chemistry is off.

For many people, being suddenly depressed comes from a chemical imbalance in the brain. This kind of depression is known as chemical depression and it’s something that you have no control over and that can sneak up on you.

Chemical imbalances can be caused by many things – trauma, genes, ill health and brain injury.  It is not something that is caused by weakness or lack of character nor is it your fault. Many people feel that their depression is a sign of weakness but, if you are chemically depressed, being the strongest person on the planet would make not one bit of difference.

Fortunately, you can treat chemical depression with therapy and/or medication.  See your primary care doctor right away if you suspect you might be struggling with chemical depression. He or she can help you get the proper treatment so that you can go back to being happy and hopeful.

#2 – You have been overindulging.

Many people don’t know that not taking care of our bodies and overindulging can lead to depression.

New research is showing the connection between the brain and the stomach and they are discovering that when the stomach is sick, the brain becomes ill.

Have you ever noticed how, if you spend a weekend overindulging on really bad food, or you eat something that doesn’t agree with you, you find yourself feeling not quite yourself. Maybe a little bit more down than usual or flat out depressed? This is most likely because your tummy flora is off and it’s causing a short-term chemical imbalance in your brain which could be affecting your mood.

How about after a night of drinking? Do you find yourself feeling depressed the next day, not wanting to go to work or hang out with your friends? Did you know that drugs and alcohol can both lead to short term depression?

Alcohol is a natural depressant, which is why it chills us out at the end of a long day. But too much alcohol depresses the nervous system and even after we have stopped drinking it stays in our bodies for hours and can cause depression.

It is important that we take care of ourselves every day. Eat right and drink moderately. One thing my doctor recommended was a daily probiotic to help me manage my moods. I know when my tummy is good, my head is good.

#3 – It has been there all along, hiding.

For many of us, depression can sneak up on us. We think that we are fine, fine, fine and then suddenly we are not.

But the reality is that often our depression comes into our lives gradually and we only notice it when it reaches full strength.

Think about the past weeks and months of your life – what has been going on? Have there been life events that might have led gradually to this ‘sudden’ depression?

I know that my spring and summer have been hard. First my dog died and then a friend committed suicide and then my son was in the hospital and then I travelled overseas (which was amazing but exhausting) and then my friend’s mother died and all that time I was taking care of clients.

I was depressed. Did I notice? Nope, not until my therapist pointed it out.

So, take a good hard look at what has been happening in your life. Maybe the depression isn’t so sudden after all.

#4 – It could be the time of year.

Every year many of us are affected by something called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

People who are struggling with SAD are people whose mood changes with the seasons. For many people, SAD happens during the long winter months. The cold weather and limited sunshine can have a debilitating effect on a person’s mental health.

SAD can be hard to recognize and it can progressively get worse as the season goes on. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with SAD. Light therapy is a great way to help with SAD. As is vitamin D. Or a trip to Jamaica

Talk to your doctor about managing your SAD. You will be glad you did.

#5 – You just are.

When we are feeling depressed we tend to cast around for a reason. The sadness is uncomfortable and if we can just find something to explain it then we think we will feel better.

And yes, identifying the cause of depression can be the first step towards managing it. But sometimes there is no cause. Sometimes we are just depressed.

I have a friend who called me last summer, frantic because she had been feeling really blue for a few days. I have known this friend for 20 years and I knew that she was one of those people who was generally pretty steady, mood-wise. So, we both were a bit taken aback by her sadness.

We talked it through, considered her chemistry, what had been happening in her life, if she had been taking care of herself, whether or not she had been blue like this before and guessed it wasn’t SAD. We couldn’t pinpoint a cause so we decided to wait it out a week or so and see what happened.

Fortunately, a few days later she called me and told me the cloud had lifted, that she was feeling more like her old self. Nothing had happened to change anything – she just realized one day that she was feeling better.

The world can be a difficult place and sometimes all it takes is the news or a fight with your boyfriend or a bad grade at school to send us off to a dark place. And when that happens, riding it out can be just the solution.

That being said, depression isn’t something to be taken lightly and if your depression doesn’t clear up in a reasonable time, definitely seek some professional help.

Feeling suddenly depressed can be really scary. Really scary.

But understanding why you might be so can go a long way towards helping you manage your sadness.

Talk to your doctor about your brain chemistry, consider what has been happening in your life recently, make sure you are taking care of yourself and take stock of the weather.

It is important that, if you are depressed, you deal with it right away. Depression that goes untreated will only get worse. So, deal with your depression today!